It never failed. No matter how much I may have wanted to go to summer camp, no matter how exciting the weeks ahead may be, everything changed the moment my parents finished helping me lug in my duffel bag and unroll my sleeping bag.
All the tasks at hand were done. There was nothing else to do but to see them go.
Each time, every year, the same deep gnawing feeling crept along the pit of my stomach. Dread set in. If I didn’t fear losing face in front of the other campers, I know what I would have done.
I would have thrown my arms around my parents. Told them it was a mistake. Implore them to not abandon me. Tell them to help me repack. Tell them to take me with them.
I low-key panicked every time my parents got ready to go. And I don’t mind saying, that’s how I feel tonight.
I can hear Republican critics laughing at these words. To them, it probably confirms the idiocy emitted from the talk show hosts who do their thinking for them: that Democrats want the government to be their mommy and daddy. I don’t, trust me. I have a wonderful mother. I’m still grieving the loss of my father. Nothing could ever replace them, and nothing should.
But contemplating these waning hours of Obama’s presidency leaves me with the same feeling I had all those summers ago. The Obamas are leaving. The Bidens are leaving. And they’re leaving me to an uncertain future. If I could, I would throw my arms around them and beg them to take them with me.
Unlike summer camp, where I knew I could look forward to afternoons of music and art, to swimming in the lake and campfires and skits, there’s nothing ahead that I look forward to.
This is going to be tough. It will be painful. We risk losing some of the rights we gained just months ago. Will there be a registry for Muslims? Will marriage equality be turned back? Will our government encourage its citizens to consider minorities as figurative (or literal) punching bags? Or will the terrors ahead be more mundane: economic downfall, war and chaos?
I don’t know. I’ve challenged my imagination to come up with any good scenario, and I’ve fallen short. I can’t create any positive outcomes in my mind.
What I come up with is this: Weeks and months ahead that will require diligence and resolve. A constant fight to stop the creeping dystopia threatening to overtake us. In my darker moments, the scenarios are much, much worse.
Perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad if the future didn’t stand in such contrast to what we’re about to lose. I first heard of Obama during the 2004 Democratic Convention. I fell for him when I heard the “Yes We Can” speech, which truly changed me. I was thrilled when he won in 2008, and feared for his life from the moment he was sworn in. The fact that he survived through the past eight years is something of a miracle to me.
In those eight years, he gave us our first step toward affordable health care for all. He expanded rights to the LGBT community and treated the downtrodden with respect and dignity. He endured never-ending onslaughts from the right — people questioning his birth, comparing him to Hitler (I will never understand that), smearing him in every way imaginable. He saved us economically and gave us hope. He and his family always conducted themselves with warmth and pride, and scandal never touched them. He gave me great comfort, too. I always felt we as a nation were secure with him in office.
All that ends tomorrow at noon. He’s leaving us to our fate, at least for now. All his tasks are done. It’s time for him to go.
It’s time for us to stay and fight.